Taking a national fear and addressing it on the campus level is something Baylor has handled well through its Sic ‘Em for Safety campaign for National Preparedness Month.
The first of many initiatives, the active attack training video released Thursday clearly had a lot of thought and resources put into it.
A discretionary announcement for possible triggers for the Baylor community on Wednesday was a good cautionary step to prepare viewers.
The video itself effectively portrayed a shooting incident. Having real Baylor students, staff and campus in the video made the scenario real for viewers. Many times, people are unlikely to pay attention to issues that seem irrelevant to them personally. For example, people rarely watch the safety flight videos or demonstrations. Showing the incident in a context viewers associate themselves with communicates the content’s reality and therefore importance.
The three-word mantra “Avoid. Deny. Defend.” was a helpful memory tool. In times of shock, such as an active shooting, it is those short, succinct phrases that will easily rise to mind. A convoluted messaging would be harder to recall in the heat of a high-danger situation.
However, more detail could have been given on the application of those three steps.
In “Avoid,” there was no advice for people who happen to be in the bathroom, hallway or stuck outside. The video showed students from the hallway being let into classrooms, but this will not always be possible when classrooms are getting locked and barricaded. Students were shown running into a bus, but that will not always be an option for people outside either.
For “Deny,” there could be instructions on how to actually make barriers that the actors were seen building. There was even a shot of someone tying a belt around a door hinge, which could be another tip to be guided through step-by-step. Taking more time in the video to slow down the action would lessen the suspense of the drama but ultimately provide more insight for viewers.
In “Defend,” suggestions on what items conventionally found in a classroom could be helpful for self-defense. The makeshift weapons in the video— primarily glass vials of varying shapes and sizes— was specific to a lab, which will not always be the environment people will be in. Professional recommendations could bring attention to everyday items the average person typically would not think of using.
Video is a great medium for communication, and could be further employed to guide the Baylor community on tangible tips and tricks.
The active attack training video is an engaging, well-produced resource. Additional resources containing this more detailed information could still be helpful if released after this initial video.
There are constraints to any video, especially with time because of the pressure to retain the audience’s attention. However, the video could have had less time devoted to Dr. Linda Livingstone speaking on Baylor’s institutional esteem and mission. Instead, her screen time could be reallocated to more effectively achieve the main objective: providing safety tips.